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Review: 8 outdoor products worth checking out

POSTED: March 3, 2017 11:11 a.m.
Grant Olsen/

This is an excellent time of year to get out into nature without the crowds.

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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — As warmer weather becomes more consistent, the snow will begin to recede in the upper elevations. This can be a great time to explore beautiful destinations before the springtime crowds arrive. For anglers, it can be a miraculous experience to fish a lake where the ice is opening for the first time of the year.

Here are a handful of outdoor products that might make a good addition for your next adventure.

Intova DUB Action Cam

PRICE: $119

GRADE: A-

The action camera market continues to be a battlefield. New competitors arrive every month and pioneers like GoPro are certainly feeling the heat. Intova, a Hawaii-based company, is establishing itself as a solid contender in the water-focused camera sector.

The DUB Action Cam is one of Intova’s newest cameras. It is waterproof to 200 feet and has a floating housing. It delivers 1080p video resolution and has an 8MP sensor. And the rechargeable Li-ion battery provides up to two hours of battery life, which is more than many other cameras on the market.

The DUB Action Cam has a simplified interface, making it perfect for family use. It also has a nice price, coming in below $120. You get a lot of bang for your buck, with the 1080p resolution at 30 FPS and rugged underwater capabilities.

And speaking of underwater, you’ll want to be careful to keep the O-ring clean on the camera housing. If sand or debris get on it, the door might not close completely. And any resulting leaks wouldn’t be covered under the product’s warranty.

Tru.Comfort Doublewide 20 Sleeping Bag

PRICE: $179

GRADE: A

The Tru.Comfort Doublewide is perfect for people who struggle to get comfortable in sleeping bags. After all, this behemoth is more like a portable bed. It can accommodate sleepers up to 6 feet 6 inches tall and has plenty of width for most couples.

The most bed-like feature on the Doublewide is the integrated blanket system. The bag has two built-in blankets, so couples can adjust their own temperature in the night without interrupting their partner’s sleep. There’s also an oversized hood that provides ground coverage with enough space for two full-size pillows.

The shell material is 75D 210T High Filament Poly Taffeta, which is durable enough for most terrain. Inside is Cloudloft insulation combined with a 75D 210T Poly Taffeta liner. Comfort is the name of the game with the Doublewide, and it totally delivers (rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit). With all these features, the bag still manages to keep its weight to less than 10 pounds, which is always appreciated.

Muck Arctic Après Lace Mid

PRICE: $199

GRADE: A

Muck makes boots that are tough as tanks, but are intended to look a lot more stylish. The Arctic Après is a perfect example. These boots have a sophisticated design that makes them 100 percent waterproof. That may sound rudimentary, but there are a fair number of boots on the market that claim to be waterproof, but still allow water in.

The boots have a sturdy leather upper and a faux fur trim, and inside is a soft fleece lining that keeps the heat in. The boots can hold their own in most winter weather, as they’re rated to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, boots can have all the features in the world, but it won’t matter if they don’t have good traction— bells and whistles instantly lose their luster when you’re lying on your back on a patch of ice. The Arctic Après have a rugged outsole with a slip-resistant design, so you’ll feel confident in nasty weather.

Canada Goose Expedition Parka

PRICE: Varies by retailer

GRADE: A

If you’re the type of person who has a hard time staying warm in the winter, you may want to consider Canada Goose products. They come with a hefty pricetag, but deliver unmatched performance. The Expedition Parka was originally designed for scientists in Antarctica, so it's officially one of the warmest coats on earth.

The Expedition uses 625 Fill Power White Duck Down, which has incredible loft and really locks in the heat. The hood has an ultra-efficient design that ensures it stays in place and doesn’t allow cold air to seep in. The finishing touch on the hood is the coyote fur ruff.

Within the body of the coat is an interior elastic drawcord for customized fit. There’s also an insulated windguard that keeps you toasty. The front storm flap covers the zipper to prevent the cold from seeping in. The fabric (85 percent polyester and 15 percent cotton) stays dry in tough conditions and is also wind resistant. There are plenty of pockets for storage, but they’re sleek enough that they don’t add too much bulk to the coat.

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Yes, it can be. The Expedition Parka is so unbelievably warm that it transcends a lot of the local weather conditions. After all, it has been field-tested for the coldest places on earth and is rated to perform in temperatures starting at -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people would only need that kind of protection on the coldest days of the year. But if your job or lifestyle regularly takes you outside in bitter weather, this coat can’t be beat.

Priority Continuum Bike

PRICE: $899

GRADE: A

If you’ve thought about checking out a belt-drive bike, the Continuum is a solid option. It has lots of impressive features, including the seamless-shifting Nuvinci hub, Gates carbon drive belt and hydraulic disc brakes.

One of the first things you’ll notice is how smooth the ride is. The belt delivers consistent pressure and is as quiet as a church mouse. And because the belt doesn’t require lubrication like a chain does, it doesn’t pick up gunk along the way. It’s maintenance free and perfect for the slushy conditions of winter riding.

The Continuum has a rustproof aluminum frame that comes in three sizes (17-inch, 19-inch and 21-inch). It’s perfect for street riding and commuting with its ultralight frame, fenders, reflective tire sidewalls and kickstand. You can also add the optional “Winter Tire Set,” which gives you studded tires that bite into ice and snow to keep you stable in foul weather.

Costa Del Mar Bloke

PRICE: $169

GRADE: B+

Costas are specifically made for those who spend a lot of time on the water. The Bloke is a great option for anglers because it has a face-hugging frame and Hydrolite nose and temple pads. These features ensure that your sunglasses stay in place, even if you get splashed square in the face.

Of course, most people buy Costas for the lenses, not the frames. The Bloke’s lenses give 100 percent UV light blockage and their complete polarization eliminates reflected glare so effectively that it saves your eyes a lot of strain. You can choose between plastic or glass lens options. The plastic versions are lightweight and impact-resistant. The glass versions are a bit heavier, but give you the greatest clarity.

You should note that while these sunglasses are billed as having an extra-large fit, they’re not quite as roomy as some of the other XL sunglasses on the market. They’re more of a one-size-fits-all, while people with particularly large faces may feel a little cramped. For reference, the frame width is 138mm, the bridge width is 16mm and the lens width is 61.2mm.

Cotopaxi Veloz Hydration System

PRICE: Varies

GRADE: A-

Salt Lake-based Cotopaxi has used crowd-funding to launch some of their products, including the Inti 2 tent and Libre Sweater. Why would a successful company turn to Kickstarter and Indiegogo for funding? Because it builds customer support, reduces costs and enhances marketing efforts.

Cotopaxi is again using crowd-funding for their new hydration pack. And like its predecessors, the pack quickly surpassed the funding goal. The Veloz has a unique cross-body harness system that keeps the pack snugly in place and the weight distributed evenly.

Available in either 3L or 6L size, the Veloz is sleek enough for distance running. It has a 70D Robic nylon shell that can handle the elements, plus a laminated Cruz Harness. The airmesh back panel allows for ample circulation. With plenty of external/internal pockets, you can also stash your phone, keys and snacks.

Fimbulvetr Tankr Snowshoes

PRICE: $300

GRADE: A

Fimbulvetr snowshoes are distinct for a couple reasons. First, the brand name is utterly unique and unpronounceable for many Americans (it comes from an old Norse word for “The Great Winter”). Plus, they look different from just about anything else on the market. This is particularly true for the peculiar-looking Tankr.

Designed to make it easier to carry heavy loads in all kinds of snowy terrain, the Tankr is a whopping 38-inches long. Despite the ungainly appearance, they’re actually quite maneuverable. They have a hinge and rocker design, with rugged steel crampons. The traction is exceptional.

Fimbulvetr’s Tankr recently took home honors at the ISPO AWARDS. The snowshoes won the category of Eco Achievement Hardware, receiving praise for the material strategy and durability.
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